JANUARY 28, 1958 |GLEN CLOVE, NEW YORK • There was unsettling news on this day in 1958. Early that morning Roy Campanella of the Brooklyn Dodgers was on his way home to Glen Cove, Long Island after closing the Harlem liquor store he owned when his car hit a patch of ice. The vehicle flipped and hit a light pole. The robust, rock-like catcher’s neck was broken by the impact. Several vertebrae were fractured. It wasn’t immediately certain if he would survive.
As it turned out Campanella pulled through, but would never walk again. He was paralyzed from the shoulders down. He would later regain considerable use of his arms and hands through therapy.
The Philadelphia native remained employed by the now Los Angeles Dodgers, working with young catchers in the organization. He later became assistant to the director of community relations.
Roy Campanella survived an accident that could have killed him, and went on to live a productive life. Still, it’s tempting to imagine what could have been. He probably had a few productive baseball-playing years in him. He was 36 when the accident happened. While he only played 10 years, he was one of the greatest catchers of all time:
- 8-time all-star
- 3-time MVP
- 242-home runs
- 856 RBI
- .276 life-time batting average
Roy Campanella died of a heart attack June 26, 1993 at the age of 71.